HAMILTON — Hamilton Tiger-Cats special teams coach Jim Daley could not stop gushing about receiver/returner Chris Williams’ maturity Friday.
“He is a mature man,” the coach said, praising to the 24-year-old’s obsession with playbook details. “He might be a young person, and a young player but he is a mature man.”
There is shrewdness in the way Williams runs, predicting every block and running lane. He is so smart and fast, unloading another long missed field goal against Montreal Saturday night in the second quarter, as he did last week against Toronto. It, too, was nearly a touchdown. Nearly; because, as Williams himself admitted Friday, he might be fast but he is still imperfect.
“There are tons of things you can do perfect that I’m not doing,” said Williams. Completely finishing his explosive runs appears to be on his list. The Ticats offence and defence outscored and outhit the Alouettes to the tune of a 39-24 victory, but Williams attempt to finish his 118-yard return by walking backward into the end zone will likely be the lasting, humourous image of what was a seminal game for Hamilton.
Seemingly far away from Montreal jerseys, Williams spun around inside the Alouettes’ 10-yard line alongside defensive back Ryan Hinds and tried to walk backwards into the end zone. Williams was then met by unrelenting Montreal safety Brain Ridgeway who was judged to slam Williams down at the one-yard line.
Thankfully the gaffe did nothing to hinder Hamilton’s first half offensive explosion, which Montreal aided with costly mistakes. Ticats linebacker Rey Williams took Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo’s first pass back 53-yards, which immediately setup Hamilton’s first seven points — a short pass to slotback Bakari Grant. It was then 14-0 after three Montreal penalties kept resuscitating a 12 play, 65-yard Hamilton drive that lasted five minutes, and finished with a clever one-yard play action pass to running back Daryl Stephenson.
Montreal cut the lead in half three minutes later with a three-yard pass to running back Brandon Whittaker, but Hamilton’s defensive front, Eddie Steele, Ronnell Brown and Jermaine McElveen, squeezed themselves in Calvillo’s field of vision from then on.
Following Williams’ misguided showboating, special teams coach Jim Daley was seen with his arm around Williams as Chevon Walker scored Hamilton’s third touchdown.
Als kicker Sean Whyte had a 45-yard field goal quickly dissolved by a Hamilton drive that covered 75 yards in two minutes and finished with a five-yard pass to Walker. Hamilton capped off the half with Luca Congi’s 23-yard field goal to push Hamilton’s advantage to 32-10.
Hamilton quarterback Henry Burris finished 27 for 30 for 360 yards and four touchdowns.
But nothing is ever certain with the ageless Calvillo under centre. It took him one minute and a 22-yard toss to slotback Jamel Richardson then the 32-yard touchdown throw to receiver Brandon London, to spark a surge. Although Hamilton continued to apply pressure, sometimes with six slamming into Montreal’s offensive line, Calvillo opened up Hamilton’s loose secondary.
London, Richardson, SJ Green and Eric Deslauries all made long grabs before Patrick Lavoie caught his third touchdown in as many games from 12 yards. But 32-24 on the scoreboard is as close as Montreal would come.
Andy Fantuz then restored Hamilton’s two touchdown lead with a 26-yard catch two minutes into the fourth quarter, and he became the second half security blanket for Burris. Fantuz finished with eight catches for 135 yards and the single touchdown.